Various camera manufacturers have attempted to incorporate Wi-Fi in the past with limited success, but that hasn't stopped Samsung from releasing eight models with advanced wireless capabilities. The Samsung WB150F is one of the lower-tier point-and-shoot Wi-Fi cameras offered by the maker of the Galaxy family, but it comes with a slew of wireless features that enable images to be uploaded to social networks and transfer files to any Samsung Android phone. There's also a wireless Remote Viewfinder that transforms a smartphone into a viewfinder, and the WB150F has one of the best suites of fun digital image effects on the market. But will the WB150F's 18x optical zoom and 720p HD video be enough to drive a wedge between consumers and their camera phones? Let's find out.
- Droves of creative filters and effects
- The Wi-Fi Remote Viewfinder is pretty nifty
- Lots of manual controls for a point-and-shoot
- Nice 18x optical zoom
- Majority of Wi-Fi features are not must-haves
- Only syncs with other Samsung devices
- Mediocre image quality
- Sluggish interface
Ideal for: Consumers on a budget, Wi-Fi freaks.
Suggested Retail Price: $229.99
Samsung WB150F Design
The Samsung WB150F doesn't stray too far from a traditional point-and-shoot when it comes to design, which is a nice way of saying the camera is rather boring. But I do like the pronounced right grip bulge and independent Video Record button, as well as the camera's snazzy matte black finish. The camera also benefits from an 18x optical zoom Schneider KRUEZNACH lens, though its f/3.5 base aperture value is limiting. There's no HDMI output and I found its battery life to be average.
In back, the WB150F has a 3-inch 460,000-pixel LCD screen that offers a mediocre display. Things are oversharpened and hazy when viewed through the LCD, and there's no viewfinder. For navigation, the WB150F has a typical four-way directional pad and shortcut buttons for Flash, Self-timer, Macro and Display. Overall, I wasn't floored with this design, but what should I expect for $230?
Samsung WB150F Features
Luckily, the Samsung WB150F is a bit of a dynamo on the inside. Unlike most point-and-shoot competitors in its price range, the camera actually has a full Manual mode with a shutter speed that reaches 16-seconds. ISO can hit 3200, and there are even Program, Aperture Priority and Shutter Priority modes. In this price range, those features alone are virtually unheard of.
However, my favorite modes to shoot in were the creative effect modes, and the WB150F had by far the most robust set of filters and effects I've ever seen on a camera. There were various Photo Filters like Sketch, Oil Painting and Cartoon, Movie Filters like Retro, Palette Effects and Miniature, and a special framing mode called Magic Frame. Here, Samsung provided a number of different backgrounds with a cutout portion of the image for framing someone or something on a billboard or in a magazine. This was insanely fun.
The WB150F also had a Live Panorama mode, which allowed me to pan in any direction to capture a panoramic image, and the camera offered a handful of Scene modes for shooting landscapes and night scenes. The Autofocus an Auto Exposure in Smart Auto mode were relatively fast, though I found the camera's interface to operate sluggishly. Aside from that, the camera's playback speaker was in the way of my finger, which muffled sound a bit. At least it wasn't the microphone!
For beginners, the WB150F has enough tricks to keep one occupied till the cows come home.
Samsung WB150F Wi-Fi
And now the moment you've all been waiting for: the Samsung WB150F's Wi-Fi capabilities. The menu on the camera in the image above is the Wi-Fi menu, offering Social Sharing, Email, MobileLink, Remote Viewfinder, Cloud, Auto Backup and TV Link options. Samsung says that only Samsung smartphones will work with their Wi-Fi cameras, so they sent me a Galaxy S II. In order to link the phone and the camera, Wi-Fi must be enabled on the phone and the camera has to be in Wi-Fi mode. I'll break down each mode for you.
Social Sharing and Email
Say you just took a gaggle of fun pictures with the WB150F and you want to upload them to Facebook. In order to do that, you have to be within range of a Wi-Fi network for the camera to connect. Once it does, the WB150F will display a login screen for entering a username and password. The downside is that I had to use the camera's four-way directional pad to enter the information, which was time consuming and frustrating. I remember NES passwords that took less time to enter.
Once you're logged in, the camera allows you to check off which pictures and videos you want to upload before clogging up the bandwidth. Emailing an image to someone was the same process, only I had to enter my email information and the recipient's email address. Did it work? Yes. But it was a pain in the ass.
One of the Samsung WB150F's key Wi-Fi features is its ability to connect to other Samsung devices like smartphones and tablets and transfer over pictures and videos. This process was a bit trickier, as I had to download the MobileLink application to my phone. Then I had to open the MobileLink option on the camera, connect the phone to the camera's Wi-Fi network, open up the MobileLink application on the phone, and then I could finally transfer images and videos wirelessly to the Galaxy S II.
This was another time-consuming endeavor, which led me to think, "Why wouldn't I just take pictures with the phone in order to avoid all of this in the first place?" For one, the WB150F has that nice 18x optical zoom lens. And lots of manual controls and fun filters. But even then, it would take me far less time to toss those images and videos onto my computer and up to a social networking site than it would to go through the American Gladiators obstacle course necessary to transfer the media to a phone from the camera.
One of the features I was most excited about was the Remote Viewfinder option, which basically turned the Galaxy S II into a remote viewfinder for the WB150F. In order to make this happen, I had to download The Remote Viewfinder application on the Galaxy S II, connect the phone to the camera via Wi-Fi, then run the Remote Viewfinder application. After a bit of time, the phone finally linked up to the camera and displayed an actual remote viewfinder, which was awesome. The good news is that I didn't have to be in range of Wi-Fi to make this happen, since both devices were feeding off of each other.
I turned the phone to the horizontal position, thinking the remote LCD on the phone would orient itself horizontally, but to my chagrin, it remained in the vertical position, maintaining its diminutive resolution. So, expect a much smaller remote viewfinder than you hoped for. Regardless, this was my favorite Wi-Fi mode because the image could be captured from the phone by pressing a virtual shutter button, and it saves to both the camera and the phone. Unfortunately, there's a bit of lag between pressing the shutter button and having the image captured, so don't expect and instant snap.
The Samsung WB150F could also connect to Microsoft SkyDrive via a Microsoft Live account in order to store images and videos in the cloud. I did it and it worked. However, only Microsoft SkyDrive is supported, so that's something to consider. The WB150F could also be connected to a Wi-Fi enabled TV in order to view images and videos cable-free. The downside to this was the time it took to connect to a TV and the mediocre quality of the images and videos when they were viewed on the big screen. An HDMI cable would have shaved valuable time off the whole process.
While some people may find the Wi-Fi features to be beneficial, I didn't have any use for them. Sure, the Remote Viewfinder was cool, but when am I really going to use it? Any images or videos I upload to the internet or save to my computer are done quickly via USB cable. Plus, I still think most people will rely on their smartphones to take pictures rather than a smart camera.
Samsung WB150F Image Quality
The Samsung WB150F has a run-of-the-mill 1/2.3-inch 14-megapixel CCD sensor that contributed to a mediocre overall performance. The issues I had with the sensor hovered around the camera's high outputs of noise at higher ISO levels. The best images I was able to attain were macros at the lowest possible ISO setting. So, the trick was to shoot at ISO 200 and below.
Unfortunately, the WB150F's lens contributed to the other half of the problem. Unbridled ghosting and flaring were present across a broad range of images, subtracting detail and sharpness from the overall picture. In some cases, this was so bad that I thought I was shooting with a smartphone. And that's just it right there: if you're going to market a camera with Wi-Fi capabilities, the image quality better transcend the best smartphone on the market. In this case, I would have taken the iPhone 4S's camera over the WB150F.
That's not to say I didn't have a blast with the WB150F. I really loved the digital filters and the ability to shoot long shutters at night. But the average shooter who keeps with WB150F in Smart Auto mode, even in Program Auto, will not notice much of a difference between this camera and a good smartphone camera. The same applied to video quality, as I noticed a fair amount of compression artifacts and stepping along lines. The WB150F was only capable of 720p HD video, though it just seemed like interpolated VGA quality.
Samsung WB150F Still Image Samples
Samsung WB150F Video Samples
Samsung WB150F Conclusion
The Samsung WB150F means well. It's a camera that attempts to simplify life via built-in Wi-Fi and a plethora of shooting modes. However, its overall image quality did not even beat the best smartphone on the market, and it's going to have to in order pry the average consumer away from their Instagram-equipped Galaxy S II. Furthermore, the WB150F's Wi-Fi features and interface were not very necessary or inviting. It took me forever to type using that confounded four-way directional pad, and far less time to connect the camera to my computer via cable and transfer media.
Sure, the fun filters and Wi-Fi Remote Viewfinder will appeal to the average consumer, as well as all of the Scene modes. Heck, the manual modes will suit the advanced photographer. But the execution is far from the mark. Without a touchscreen LCD, faster interface and better image quality, the Samsung WB150F is not that much of a contender. The price is nice, but we all know you get what you pay for.
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